I found out about the election of Pope Benedict while I was driving in the car listening to MPR on the radio; I found out about the election of Pope Francis when my wife, Amy (a Catholic) sent me a text that I received on my I-Phone. The world is changing and this new Pope has the responsibility of taking the gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church into such a world.
We Protestants have always had an ambivalent relationship with the Pope. I admire a church which has an elected leader who is responsible for making decisions. Anyone who has attended many Presbyterian meetings knows that our belief in the work of committees often muddles and slows down our process. When I see the lack of focus that Presbyterians and other Protestants often have I long to see a person take charge. Imagine Congress operating without an Executive branch and a limited judicial branch—that is how Presbyterians operate. Of course, an Executive operating without a legislative branch can lead to all sorts of problems too. We Protestants are skeptical of authoritarian leaders—so we have thrown our lot in with committees.
I was touched that Cardinal Bergoglio chose to be named Pope Franics. The name selection is encouraging. Francis was a priest who took a vow of poverty which his order of the Franciscans have always followed. Their care for the earth is admirable. My first Spiritual Director was a Franciscan nun who was always interested in what was happening to creation. That Pope Francis is a Jesuit is even more intriguing. I have always found Jesuit priests to be highly skilled academics. It’s wonderful to dream of a Pope who is looks at the earth with a proper balance of head, heart, and feet. I’m pleased that in his first Mass this morning Pope Francis lifted up themes of care for the poor and ecumenism.
The day after I received the text from Amy, I wrote on my Facebook page “Congratulations to Pope Francis. My prayers to him and all our Catholic friends! Let's continue to follow the Spirit in creating a powerful church for the world!” I hope that Pope Francis can help lead the church towards experiencing the desire of unity that Jesus expressed in John 17. Our ability to be unified as one church (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and non-denomination) will be a significant reason that people outside the church enter into our doors. We don’t need to be one denomination, but we do need to lower our walls and grab hands together.
This Presbyterian prays and hopes for a vibrant Catholic witness in the world. The battles of the Reformation might still ricochet in some areas, but not with me. My Catholic brothers and sisters hold beliefs which I don’t, but there is always more that brings us together. Hopefully Pope Francis can lead us deeper into this unity. His care for the poor, other religions and denominations, and the earth are a good place to start.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
I recently had an experience with a group where the leadership of the group seemed disinterested and lacking. That experience made me think about my own leadership style. I developed an acronym that I committed myself to in terms of leadership for the rest of 2013. The acronym is DBS. I’m still working out these ideas in my own mind, but let me briefly share my thoughts as to how I understand DBS
D—discerning. I want everything I do to be a reflection of what God wants in my life. I constantly want to ask myself the question, “What would God do in this situation? How is God leading me? How can I stay on the same page with God, not getting ahead or behind the Almighty?” As Presbyterians we believe that our lives are not our own—they are God’s. One of my favorite parts of the Book of Confessions is from the Heidelberg Confession, “That I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.” Our task is not to come up with terrific ideas, but instead be attuned to the terrific ideas that God has for us. When we discern well the pressure in our lives fades.
B—bold. It seems to me that we in the church are way too timid in our leadership. We take baby steps when God wants us to take giant leaps. Let’s be bold! Let’s take risks! Let’s continue to understand that the church is a movement that was started by the boldest leader in the history of the world—Jesus. If we aren’t doing something bold, then we are missing out on the leadership style that Jesus modeled. The world is waiting for a group of people who are willing to be bold in a discerning way.
S—strategic. Often in the church we feel like we lack resources—even though the gift of grace is the greatest gift the world has ever experienced. When we lack something it’s important to focus our efforts. We must ask ourselves the question, “where will our efforts lead to the most fruit? What should I stop doing so that I can give more time to these efforts?” Rick Warren wrote that leaders often have so many irons in the fire that we put out the fire. Where do we have to focus our efforts in a strategic way? A strategy is a focus that will best help achieve a goal.
I’m interested in your thoughts. Send me your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org on this acronym and what you feel are some important qualities of leadership.
Friday, March 1, 2013
This Sunday our new congregation is pleased to share a terrific parenting opportunity. Katie Solem will be speaking at a breakfast at 9:30 a.m. on Love and Logic parenting this Sunday, March 3. I first met Katie through a partnership our new church established with Lino Lakes Elementary STEM school. Katie gave a talk for parents at the school. I was very impressed with her knowledge and laughed at her many stories about parenting. Let’s be honest—if we don’t laugh at our own foibles when it comes to parenting we’ll hardly ever be able to crack a smile.
Who doesn’t struggle with parenting in this complicated and technological world? We have to make quick decisions that would baffle our grandparents. I wish I had a dollar for all of the times I have messed up with my daughter—perhaps I could pay for her college!
Love and Logic is the best method of parenting. I learned about this method at my last church. From my personal experience Love and Logic works with kids and greatly reduces the anxiety of parenting.
I encourage everyone reading this blog to join us on Sunday.
Our new congregation meets at Da Vinci Academy in Blaine—at the intersection of 131st Ave and Central. After worship Katie will be available for a question and answer session on parenting.